Episode 65: Holy Shot

In the sixty-fifth episode of the latest, we skip our flu shot in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine. Georgian Benta (www.georgianbenta.com), host of “The Gratitude Podcast,” joins the program for this week’s O.J. Simpson Twitter Update.

The Latest with Greg Ott
Episode 65: Holy Shot
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Transcript

Those voices are discussing the coronavirus vaccine, that thing, like the PlayStation 5, you were hoping to get for Christmas that you’ll be lucky to get your hands on by Labor Day.

As a miracle of modern science stands ready to finally put an end to the global pandemic, anxious citizens throughout the country are asking themselves an important question: does this mean I’m going to have to start getting dressed for work again?

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency approval for  Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine — it’s the fastest vaccine ever developed, outpacing the four years it took to develop a safe treatment for mumps, and the four-and-a-half years it took for the public to become immune to anything Rudy Giuliani ever says again. 

The first three million shots are being rationed for healthcare workers and the elderly, meaning one way or another, Dr. Phil is getting it before you.

FedEx and UPS planes and trucks are prepared to help distribute 40 million doses by the end of the year, and once you subtract the number of packages that they crush, send to the wrong address, and leave to be stolen off your porch after claiming you signed for it while you weren’t home, there’s a good chance they’ll deliver at least half that number.

That’s not entirely facetious — the vaccine requires two doses, spread three weeks apart. It’s a period of time long enough to form a habit, so if you want to take up smoking because you’ll miss having a persistent health crisis, go right ahead before getting your second shot. 

According to the the head of Operation Warp Speed, who is either in charge of the  Department of Health & Human Services vaccination program or a live-action Star Trek cosplay convention that’s been forced to retreat online, 75% of Americans need to take the vaccine. 

That’s three out of every four people in the country, roughly the same number of people who listen to this program, according to a survey I conducted of the two people living in my apartment. 

But by the spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that, should enough people be persuaded to get inoculated, the U.S.A. could achieve herd immunity. It’ll be just like the debut of Quibi: a few people may be stuck with it, but the rest of us will be going on about our lives as if it had never happened. 

That is, of course, if we can get people to agree to get it. Just because you’re handing out free tickets to see the Sugar Ray doesn’t mean anyone’s going to take you up on the offer.

In the interest of demonstrating the safety of the vaccine to the public, former Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, have vowed to get vaccinated on live television, a slightly more compelling half-hour of programming than that of James Corden and Amy Klobuchar shoving drive-thru COVID tests up their noses on Carpool Karaoke.

But between the longtime vaccine skeptics and those with more modern concerns, like worrying that Bill Gates has snuck a microchip into the vaccine that causes you to keep sending Word attachments back and forth instead of sharing a Google Doc like a civilized human being, 

many self-described “non-vaxxers” claim that they don’t want to volunteer to become “science experiments.”  They’d rather become them inadvertently, once students begin to ravage their coronavirus-riddled cadavers during the first day of in-person med school.

It goes without saying — but since this is an audio program, I have to say it, otherwise you’ll never know what I said — this is a huge achievement that will finally allow society to get back to normal: instead of staying in, in our sweatpants because we’re not supposed to be socializing, we can go back to staying in, in our sweatpants because we don’t feel like taking the train to your neighborhood. 

We can finally round the corner from “we’re all in this together,” where for about a month we really pretended to care by banging on pots and pans at 7pm because we’d run out of episodes of Tiger King, and return to our default modus operandi of “you’re on your own,” the phrase etched onto every U.S. dollar beneath that weird pyramid. 

Now, it’s certainly going to take some time for the vaccine to reach someone like me — sarcastic white guys who spent the bulk of their lives performing improv comedy on cruise ships fall barely above robocall programmers and just below the people who pass out more breadsticks at Fazolli’s on the “less than essential” index. 

But the moment it’s available, I’m taking my shot because it’s the patriotic thing to do. The only thing that would make taking the vaccine more American would be if they made us line up to get them at the Apple Store   

Yes, there are risks to trying out a new product — when this is all done, I won’t be booking a flight on a 737 Max because I’d rather not take my first vacation in a year to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean — but the reason we’ve had to stay at home since my birthday, thanks for the card, is the same reason that Guy Fieri closed down his restaurant in Times Square in 2017: we don’t want to get more people sick.

The vaccine is 95% effective, with no major reported side effects, and it’s going to allow us to stop wearing Mickey Mouse masks between business meetings, eating lunches in parking lots, and telling our families that the only reason we’ve been avoiding them has been over concerns for public health. 

And once the shots are as plentiful at the CVS as batteries, Pepsi, and receipt paper, this country can finally stop worrying about catching a cold, and get back to worrying about being slaughtered in a mass shooting.